Where do you turn when the bottom of your life drops out? On the last Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll said that people generally respond in one of four ways.
When a crisis strikes, they try escapism, cynicism, humanism, and in rare cases, supernaturalism. So Chuck posed the question, why not rely on the timeless wisdom of Holy Scripture? After all, the Bible is the final authority. The Psalmist wrote, forever, O Lord, forever. Thy word is settled in heaven.
Thy faithfulness continues throughout all generations. Chuck titled today's message, God's Book, God's Voice. When you realize that the readings or the print that you are reading is in fact God's message, God's word, it stands alone.
It's all by itself. Think of it this way, God's book is, as it were, God's voice. His opinion, his counsel, his commands, his desires, his warnings, his very mind in this book. First Peter chapter 1 verse 22. Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart. For you have been born again, not of seed, which is perishable, but imperishable. That is, through the living and abiding word of God. For all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord abides forever. And this is the word which was preached to you. Here was another reference to the everlasting nature of God's message. You realize there are only two eternal things on earth today, only two, people and God's word. Everything else is going to be burned up.
Everything else kind of sets your priorities straight, doesn't it? I love the story that Charlie Tremendous Jones tells about walking down into his basement after the flood has come and brought in the water and brought in the mud and all the gunk and all of his awards and all of his plaques and all of his honors, you know, four, five, six feet under mud. And he said, I stood there and I heard the voice of God.
He said, Charlie, not so Tremendous Jones. Don't worry about all this. I was going to burn it up anyway.
The stuff we put on the shelves, the things we put frames around, the stuff we shine, we want to show off, the things we're so interested that people know about us. It's all going to be burnt up, but the truth will abide forever. Grass will come, flower, and it'll wither and die, but his written message, the truth will abide forever. Now, wait a minute.
Hold it. How can I get so excited about something that was written by men? I mean, no problem with the giver of truth. By the way, let me toss at you three doctrinal terms you need to remember, revelation, inspiration, illumination.
Simple. You'll remember them forever in this simple illustration. God's giving his truth is revelation. From heaven to earth, he gave his truth.
That's revelation. When men received and recorded his truth, that's inspiration. God gave his truth, that's revelation. When people received and recorded his truth, they wrote his truth, that's inspiration. Today, when we understand and apply his truth, that's illumination.
Receiving and recording the truth is inspiration. Discovering new truth for our lives and understanding it and applying it, that's illumination. Revelation has ceased. Inspiration has ceased. But illumination is going on right now. Isn't that a great thought?
Right now, the Holy Spirit is incessantly at work instructing you and challenging you and warning you and thrilling you and affirming you and giving you hope and direction right now because he's at work. But it's that link. And if you've watched enough track and field as I have, you know that the critical point is the handoff in those relays. That first guy can come out of the, what do you call them? Starting blocks. That's right.
He jumps out of the starting blocks and he gets a run on that other guy and he just reaches out with the baton and he drops it and he races over. That's a critical point of the relay. So the critical point of your confidence in the Bible is that inspiration. Don't ever doubt it.
That's the watershed issue. Always has been, always will be. Not revelation, not illumination. It's the handing off of truth. And that's where the critics attack. How can I believe that God, who is perfect, and his word, which I understand now is perfect, could be that if the handoff went to human beings?
Okay. From 1 Peter, go back to 2 Timothy, chapter 3. 2 Timothy, chapter 3. Very, very important part of the subject on God's word. Timothy has just been exhorted regarding the times in which he lived, which are marked by difficulty and depravity and deception, verses 1 to 13. He says in verse 14 to his friend, Paul does, you, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from the childhood you have known the grafe.
Here's our word again. You have known the sacred writings, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. Now, having said that about the scriptures, Paul adds, Timothy, all grafe, all the writings of God, all scripture is, our text reads, inspired of God. If you carry the new international version of scripture, you see it as literally as we can render it in English. God breathed.
Is this good? God, when it came to giving mankind his word, breathed out his word. It says in verse 16, all scripture is God-breathed, not inspired like a Picasso, not inspired like a work of sculpture by Michelangelo, not inspired like a great composition by Handel, not inspired like a masterful literary piece, a masterwork by Shakespeare, but God breathed. All scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable.
Well, wait a minute. If you know much about the Bible, and most of you know enough to know this, that you realize that it's got all different kinds of thumbprints in it. Peter doesn't sound a lot like John, and John doesn't sound like David, and David's writings aren't like Samuel, and Samuel is altogether distinct from Jude, or for that matter, any of the other apostles. So somehow, there was the preservation of each writer's personality without corrupting the text. So we have a Bible full of human personality and style, and yet it's God who breathed out his message, and it came in written form from the pens of men who differed in style. How'd he do it?
How'd he make that happen? From 2 Timothy, turn back to Peter's words in 2 Peter 1. I get excited all over again when I talk about things like this. 2 Peter 1, verse 19, so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawn, and the morning star rise in your hearts. Know this, first of all, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, but look carefully, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will.
So let me interrupt. Paul didn't sit down one day and think, hmm, I think I'll write 2 Corinthians, or hmm, I feel like Galatians. I'll write Galatians. No prophecy ever came to pass because of the impulse or the inner urging of the will of man. No, but in contrast to that, verse 21, the key word is moved, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
Now don't go any further. This is a nautical term in the original. It's used often of ships at sea, used twice in Acts 27 of a shipwreck. When the ship had lost its sails and probably its rudder, and it was at the mercy of the winds and the waves and the swelling rising and lowering sea, it's moving along out of its own power. It's still a ship, but it's out of its own power. It's not going on its own energy.
It's at the mercy of the swells and the wind. That's the word used here. So what we have is God's breathing out his message to human writers so that without their losing their own style or personality, wrote his truth. And because he superintended the entire process, no error was present in the original text, right down to the very words, right down to the very terms used. Paul Feinberg at Trinity Seminary has said, inerrancy means that when all facts are known, the scriptures in their original autographs and properly interpreted will be shown to be wholly true in everything they teach. Whether that teaching has to do with doctrine, history, science, geography, geology, or other disciplines. Can I rely on it?
Is it reliable when I go through those experiences I talked about at the beginning of this talk? Back to Psalm 119. Enter woven through this great psalm is one theme, I rely on thy word, O God. In fact, interesting the way this psalm is put together.
We won't spend much time here, but I just want to close with these few comments. Look at your Bible, Psalm 119. Some of you have older versions of the Bible, some of the old King James versions, some of the other even new King James versions will include the little characters which are Hebrew characters. See verses one to eight, see the title above verse one, says Aleph. Aleph, that's the Hebrew first letter in its alphabet. The next eight verses are entitled Bath. That's the second letter in the Hebrew Bible. All of the verses, all eight verses begin with that letter.
It's kind of a magnified acrostic piece of music. All verses one through eight begin with Aleph. Nine through sixteen begin with Bath. Seventeen through twenty-four begin with Gimel. That's the third letter. And then Daleth, and Hay, and Wow, and Zion, Keth, Teth, Yod, Kaph, Lamed, Main, Nun, all the way through. You got it all the way through all 22 characters of the Hebrew alphabet. You've got it put together.
Why? Probably to assist them in memory. Part of it is just considered beautiful poetry, but it has a way of getting a ring to it when you put those same letters beginning each one of those sections. And we have eight stanzas in each one of those sections in this grand hymn. God has established his precepts. He's given us a morality to follow. He's helped us with grief, with ethics, with integrity, with criticism from others, feeling loneliness, on and on and on. And he has preserved it all. You could read right through this 119th Psalm and you would probably deal in general with every one of life's major experiences. And each time he comes back and says, I rely on your word.
Yeah, that is something. This ancient, inerrant book is reliable right up into today. I like what an old Baptist scholar named A.T. Robertson wrote. One proof of the inspiration of scripture is that it has withstood so many years of poor preaching.
I like that. That's remarkable that this book is still around after the way we've been handling it. You're in Psalm 119. I want to give you three wonderful benefits of relying on the Bible. Psalm 119, 98, 99, and 100. What benefits come my way when I rely on this marvelous book? Verse 98, thy commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine.
First benefit I would call stability in the midst of storm. I look into some faces right now who have been through stormy times. And I see the marks and the scars and the hurt and the pain in your faces.
And you see them in mine. That's part of being in the human race. But the wonderful thing about relying on the book is that God's book gives you stability. It gives you that deep sense of purpose and meaning even when you get the phone call in the middle of the night. Even when your mate says it's over. Even when for some unrevealed reason bankruptcy strikes.
And you could name them all. No other counsel will get you through in the long haul like the stability that comes from God's book. Believe that. Believe that.
I have stability in the midst of storm. Verse 99, students will love this one. I have more insight than all my teachers, for thy testimonies are my meditation. Doesn't mean you can pull rank on your prof.
I'd not suggest that, that you try that. It says, you will have insight rather than intimidation. There are few scenes more intimidating than the scholarly world. But you know what I've observed about people who really know their Bibles? They aren't intimidated.
Interesting. I'm going to talk in my next talk about the importance of handling God's Word correctly. I'm going to talk about the importance of handling God's Word accurately so that you don't come across with half-verses and partial truths that you think are really true. But they're not. Nor can you be battered in such a way because that isn't really truth.
It's a misuse of scripture. But I've observed when people really get a knowledge of the scriptures and they begin to rely on them and see them work in their lives, they are less and less intimidated. They can face criticism, and important people, and strong words, and even be outclassed in an educational scene but not intimidated because they have the truth, which gives them insight. See, insight is different. Insight is different than knowledge. Knowledge is simply dealing with facts, information. Insight is seeing through, reading between the lines, feeling what is not stated, knowing what isn't obvious. It's like perception. I have perception. It keeps me from being intimidated.
Third benefit, verse 100, I understand more than the aged because I have observed thy precepts. I have maturity beyond my years. I don't meet too many people that say I'm very satisfied with my level of maturity. Most people I talk to say I'd love to grow up. I'd love to be stronger in my faith. I'd love not to make the dumb mistakes I see a lot of people around me making. I'd love to be mature.
The answer is in this book. You will have understanding more than the aged as you rely on this book. Well, how do you close a talk like this? What do you say to simplify it all? The marvelous, marvelous wrap up I want to share with you is that often it is the simple truth that holds you together in the most complex situations.
Not simplistic, but simple. The profound truth that the Bible gives us is like arms around us on a cold night that simply hold us dear and near. Karl Barth was privileged toward the end of his life to take a trip around the world, I understand, and it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime journeys. He visited the great cathedrals and preached in some of them. He saw scenes that many of us have only seen in books and in our minds. He walked the shorelines of many if not all the oceans. He sat in quiet monasteries and on mountainsides and in chalets here and there, and came back home.
Some of his favorite friends got with him when he returned. He said, Dr. Barth, what was the most profound thought you had on all of your trip? With a twinkle in his eye, Dr. Barth looked at his group and said, the most profound thought, Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Now that makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? When it's all said and done, if it weren't for this book, I wouldn't know that Jesus loves me, and neither would you. And that is profound. That is the truth. Let's bow together, shall we? I'd like you to close your eyes and just for a few moments blot out all the interruptions and hurrying thoughts of the day.
Just be still with the Lord. This is God's book. He's its author. He's written it so that we can understand it and he's graced it with variety and beauty and color. He's preserved it from error so you can count on it.
Isn't it about time you do that? Maybe there's a few just listening right now that have heard for the very first time that somebody loves you. His name is Jesus, and this book is full of stories about him and events that transpired that he caused to happen, and he was a part of happening.
The most significant event was the dual event of his death and his resurrection from the dead. And he did it because he loves you. If there's never been a time in your life when you said, yes, Lord Jesus, I believe you love me. I want to love you in return. I believe you died on the cross for my sins. I believe you were raised bodily from the dead for me.
I want to love you back. Come into my life. He'll come in because the Bible says so. If you need someone to talk to, we have people who are tactful and gracious, who've been down this road a long ways and they know with wisdom how to help you. Father, I thank you that you in giving us Christ gave us all things richly to enjoy. I pray for my friends who hear these truths and struggle with believing them. I pray for those who still battle with cynicism, who are caught up in humanism, who have turned to the practices of spiritualism. Lord, I pray that you would graciously and yet firmly bring them to you in your word.
Show them that there is no other foundation than that which is laid. Your precious word, how firm it is. Thank you, Father, for helping us understand that Jesus is the light and that he loves us and for bringing us to him. May those who have never met him come to know him today. I pray on the authority of the scriptures and in the name of Jesus. Amen. comprehensive series about the doctrines of our faith that chuck is titled growing deep in the christian life and that's also the title of a hallmark book from chuck we can't think of a better way to start the new year than resolving to become better acquainted with the god we love in his book chuck blows the dust off the dull doctrines and breathes life into the practical side of theology so whether you're a new christian or you've been following god for a long time you'll find this teaching so helpful again it's called growing deep in the christian life and you can purchase a copy right now by going to insight.org store or by calling us if you're listening in the united states call 800-772-8888 it's possible you've been following chuck's teaching for several decades perhaps in the early days you had little financial margin because of the demands of rearing a young family during that season it was the generous giving from others that made it possible for you to hear chuck's teaching today you're likely in a stronger position if that's the case let me encourage you to step forward and become one of our monthly companions right now is the perfect time to start a new discipline of generosity by giving a monthly donation in the amount of your choice you can do for someone else what others did for you in the early days becoming a monthly companion of grace means you'll have a ministry all your own touching the lives through your monthly giving here's the number to call if you're listening in the united states it's 800-772-8888 and you can also sign up online at insight.org monthly companion treat yourself to a vacation you'll never forget on the inside for living ministries cruise to the great frontier with chuck's windall honestly i i had no idea that a cruise to alaska could be so much fun and without a doubt the stunning views took my breath away god's artistic genius is on full display in alaska in fact i guarantee this you'll come home refreshed and filled with awe for his majestic creation yeah at one point our ship was getting chased by dolphins they were playing and spinning in the waves it was amazing you'll have plenty of time for adventures on shore lingering conversations around meal time and strolling through the idyllic ports of call you'll be a part of some of the best parts of our day laughing singing and celebrating our god plan to come with us won't you the dates are july 1st through july 8th 2023 to learn more call 1-888-447-0444 that's 1-888-447-0444 or visit insight.org events the tour to alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend i'm bill meyer more from chuck swindoll on growing deep in the christian life tomorrow on insight for living the preceding message god's book god's voice was copyrighted in 1985 1987 2005 and 2011 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by charles r swindoll inc all rights are reserved worldwide duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited
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